by Beth Thompson
“Give thanks unto the LORD; call upon His Name;
make known His Deeds among the people.”
One of my dear friends and I were once discussing our plans for the Thanksgiving holiday, and she remarked that, instead of only having one day set aside for giving thanks, we ought to celebrate 364 days of thanksgiving, and only one day of complaining every year. A thankful spirit is so important to the Lord! Over and over again, in GOD’s Word, the anthem rings true and clear:
“O give thanks unto the LORD, for He is good,
because His mercy endures forever.”
“I will give Thee thanks in the great congregation;
I will praise Thee among the people.”
Give thanks – why is it of such importance?
The LORD has commanded us to give thanks in all that we do. Paul exhorts the Colossians, “and whatsoever ye do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks unto GOD, and the Father by him” (Colossians 3:17). Is obedience only the outward, the flesh routinely doing the good works or is it more than that? The LORD cares greatly about the attitude with which we are serving Him. Are we serving our Master grudgingly or with thankful hearts, praising GOD for all that He has done? Numbering the gifts, and offering praise to our LORD is an act of obedience.
“Because thou servedst not the LORD thy GOD with joyfulness, and with gladness of heart, for the abundance of all things; therefore shalt thou serve thine enemies which the LORD shall send against thee, in hunger, and in thirst, and in nakedness, and in want of all things….”
More than just a commandment, thanksgiving is a open door for us to bless the heart of GOD, for He delights in the praises of His people. We all know the warm and wonderful feeling of being wholeheartedly thanked for a gift we have given or a service we have performed. Our LORD has given us innumerable gifts; how can we not turn to Him with full and grateful hearts and give Him praise? It is a custom among the Jewish people to say one hundred blessings every day! What if we stepped out of the busy whirlwind of life, noticed the gifts, and gave thanks to GOD one hundred times each day? This is an amazing opportunity; that we can minister to the King of the Universe!
Thanksgiving is one of the ways that we can dwell in the Presence of the LORD throughout the day. “Let us come before His presence with thanksgiving, and make a joyful noise unto Him with psalms” (Psalm 95:2). We give thanks for all those little things in life, and we acknowledge Him as the giver of all. Life becomes holy when we live it always seeking to see the gifts, searching for opportunities to bless our Heavenly Father. Through thanksgiving, we are choosing to see GOD’s Hand in our everyday life. The excited, upturned face of a child, the crunch of crimson and gold leaves under feet, the breaths we take each moment; all of these are windows to see the LORD. This is His Handiwork, His Creation. When we notice these things with thankful hearts, we are choosing to see Him.
When we are dwelling in the Presence of the LORD through giving of thanks, joy is ushered in. “In Thy presence is fullness of joy; at Thy Right Hand there are pleasures forevermore” (Psalm 16:11).
Yet, how do we keep the flame of praise burning constantly, when papers must be finished for school, chores must be performed, and the house must be cleaned? Life doesn’t stop for us to catch up with it, and sometimes the whirlwind feels overwhelming. Life may not wait for us, but we can choose to pause in the middle of our day, breathe, and offer thanks. LORD, thank You, for schoolbooks, and the freedom to learn. Thank You for sisters to read stories to. Thank You for Your love always with us, even in the busyness.
Several years ago, in reading Ann Voskamp’s book, One Thousand Gifts, I was challenged to journal one thousand blessings that I already had. I found it helpful to actually write the thanksgivings down, for it solidifies them. The beauty of this is that we do not need to stop at one thousand, for the gifts do not end then, praise GOD! The thanksgiving, then, moves beyond the form of a list, and is voiced from the lips of the grateful worshiper.
Sometimes the praise flows onto the page, and sometimes the list is made doggedly, mechanically, on the days where discouragement is rampant and irritations rub hard. Give thanks we must, regardless of the feelings. As we obey the LORD and give thanks even when we do not feel like it, He softens our hearts hardened with complaints, and the feelings of gratefulness will come. Diligence is essential to keep the thanksgiving fire burning. “I will offer to thee the sacrifice of thanksgiving, and will call upon the name of the Lord” (Psalm 116:17). Thanksgiving is a choice, just like every other spiritual fruit. It is a choice to give thanks, to live seeing the grace moments, and the beauty in the midst of the ashes, and choice to live the joy. Emotions may come or they may not. “My heart is fixed, O GOD, my heart is fixed; I will sing and give praise” (Psalm 57:7). It is the fixing, the choice to give thanks, that truly matters.
We must make the decision to thank the LORD in everything, not just for what seems sweet and beautiful, but also for the things that do not. Will we accept only that which feels good from the Hand of our LORD, and protest to that which hurts? GOD knows what is best for each of us, and we can thank Him for He is always Good. He sees where each path leads, and, it is because of this that we can trust. Thank You, LORD, that you are in control of all things.
Even when we sin, and fall short again and again, instead of slipping into discouragement, we can give thanks to the One Who Helps me up. “Who shall deliver me from the body of this death? I thank GOD through Jesus Christ our Lord” (Romans 7:24-25a). He is the one that delivers us from sin.
Choose with me this day, dear sisters, to offer up to GOD a sacrifice of thanksgiving, a blessing to our Loving Father, Who has given us so much. May His Great Name be exalted!
“By him therefore let us offer the
sacrifice of praise to God continually,
that is, the fruit of our lips giving thanks to his name.”